Monday, August 22, 2016
"How Eighteen-Year-Olds Got the Vote"
The title of this post comes from this recent legal history paper by Professor Jenny Diamond Cheng, the abstract of which states:
Recent legal challenges to state voter ID laws have raised pressing questions about the correct interpretation of the constitutional amendment that guarantees eighteen-year-olds the right to vote. The Twenty-sixth Amendment, which was ratified in 1971, lowered the minimum voting age from twenty-one to eighteen. This Article offers a new, urgently needed comprehensive political history of the amendment's origins. Drawing on exhaustive primary source research, the piece traces the story of eighteen-year-old voting from World War II to the present and demonstrates that the story of eighteen-year-old voting is far more complicated that is commonly thought. This Article argues that the motives and rationales both for and against eighteen-year-old voting shifted over time and were always deeply embedded in their particular historical moments. As such, the history of the Twenty-sixth Amendment poses a challenge to those who would look to original intent to interpret it.